FF calls on Govt to invite Pope

Huge support for move at Ard Fheis

Staff Reporter

Fianna Fáil members have backed by a large margin a proposal to invite Pope Francis to may an official state visit to Ireland.

Delegates at the party’s weekend Ard Fheis in Killarney, Co. Kerry also supported by a huge majority a motion welcoming the “u-turn on the part of the Government in its decision to repopen the Irish Embassy to the Vatican”.

Both motions were proposed by the Donegal North East Comhairle Dáil Ceantair of the organisation and won widespread support among delegates.

An invitation on a state visit is the highest honour than can be accorded to a visiting Head of State. When Pope John Paul II came to Ireland in 1979 it was on a pastoral visit rather than a State visit.

While President Mary McAleese met Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI on several occasions, she paid only one state visit to the Vatican, in 2007. Before Mrs McAleese, Patrick J. Hillery was the last Irish President to be invited to make a State visit to the Vatican in 1989. When Mary Robinson visited Pope John Paul II in 1997 it was a private visit rather than a state occasion since Heads of State are generally only invited to make a State visit to the Holy See every ten years.